AUGUSTA — Forest Hills’ quest to keep its streak of odd-year state championships alive ended just as soon as it started.

The Tigers, Class D champs in 2013 and 2015, ran out of gas against Seacoast Christian, which pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 70-55 victory in quarterfinal action at Augusta Civic Center on Monday morning.

It was a four-point game heading into the fourth quarter, but the fifth-seeded Guardians (12-7) quickly extended the lead to 48-39 on an opening-possession layup by Jesse Towne and a three-point play for Jet Archer.

Three-pointers by No. 4 Forest Hills (12-7) guards Kenn Vito Cruz and Parker Desjardins cut the deficit down to 52-45 less than three minutes into the final frame, but Seacoast Christian coasted home from there, hitting 15 of 21 free throws in the fourth.

“I think what happened was just our age and our size caught up with us, our physicality,” Tigers coach Anthony Amero said. “We just had a tough time rebounding today.”

Sky Archer, who scored a team-high 20 points for Seacoast Christian, said those foul shots to put the game away were anything but free.


“We had a little bit of space, but the pressure was definitely there,” Archer said.

Archer, a senior, and younger brother Jet, a junior, paced the Guardians, who are coached by older brother Jaylan. Jet was right behind his brother in scoring, totaling 18 on the same number of made field goals (six).

“He stopped passing to me so he could hit those free throws,” Jet said. “It was definitely a fun game.”

“They’re huge,” Jaylan Archer said. “They’ve got great tournament experience. They can handle the ball, they can shoot well, they make good decisions. They’re a coach’s dream, to be honest.”

Despite the brothers’ constant scoring output, it took a third offensive option to help salt the game away. Towne scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth.

“That was a welcome surprise,” Coach Archer said. “He had an excellent game. I think he was like 6 for 8 from the field, which you can’t ask for a better percentage as far as that.”


What Towne did in the fourth for the Guardians, Cruz did for the Tigers in the first quarter, scoring seven of their eight points to keep them in a 15-8 game.

“When you get down here, you’re looking for somebody to step up, and we talked to the kids a lot about that,” Amero said. “It’s very rarely your leading scorer comes right out hot and drops 30 and you win. It’s the guys that haven’t dropped 20, 30 points in a game all season. And Kenn’s had a couple big games, but that’s by far the best he’s played all year. He stepped up in the moment, and that’s what you want.”

Cruz finished with a game-high 23 points, including four 3-pointers.

It was he and Desjardins who got the Tigers back into the game in the second and third quarters. Desjardins cut the deficit to one with a layup in the final minute of the first half, only for Sky Archer to make one of his own for a 27-24 lead. But Desjardins, an eighth-grader standing at just 5 feet, 1 inches tall, drained a 3 less than one minute into the third to tie the game up.

“He’s the real deal,” Amero said. “For a 13-year-old to come in here and play that comfortable, and handle the ball — I don’t think he turned it over against their press. He’s a legitimate player, but he’s put the time in. He’s a worker.”

Desjardins gave Forest Hills the lead with a long 3, but it only lasted briefly. Sky Archer answered with a turnaround hook shot to take back the lead for good, then after Desjardins missed a pair of 3-point attempts, he completed a three-point play to make it a two-possession game.


“It was very good getting some of those And-1 buckets, pushing it on offense,” Coach Archer said. “Those were huge.”

Cruz cut the lead to 39-38 with a 3 of his own with 1:37 left in the third, but the Guardians extended it to 43-39 heading into the fourth. That’s when Seacoast Christian flexed its muscles.

“The fourth, we executed our plays more, got into the post, we stopped shooting outside shots because they weren’t falling for us,” Sky Archer said. “So we just went to the post because we’re a bigger team than they were.”

“Happy with (the effort), just we need to get a little older and a little more physical,” Amero said. “We’ve got a good core coming back, so I’m excited about that.”

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